Every child deserves success right from the start. We know that the sooner children learn to read, the greater their success at school. This is why we put reading at the heart of what we do.
We use a teaching programme called Read Write Inc. Phonics to teach our children to read and write. We make sure every child can read the last set of phonic stories before they progress to our higher-level programmes. Some children complete the programme in Year 1 and others in Year 2. Year 3 and 4 children who need extra support follow this programme too; struggling readers in Year 5 and 6 follow a similar programme called Fresh Start.
During this time, we group children by their reading progress and re-assess children at least every half-term so we can place them in the group where they’ll make the most progress. We provide extra daily one-to-one sessions for children who need a bit of a boost to keep up.
Phonics knowledge is split into two parts:
- First, we teach them one way to read and write the 40+ sounds in English. We use pictures to help, (e.g. we make ‘a’ into the shape of an apple.) These pictures help all children, especially slower-starters, to read the sounds easily. Children learn to read words by sound-blending (e.g. a frog called Fred) Fred says the sounds and this helps blend the sounds to read each word.
- Secondly, we teach children the different spellings of the same sounds, (e.g. they learn the sound ‘ay’ is written ay, a-e and ai; the sound ‘ee’ is written ee, e and ea.) We use phrases to help them remember each sound (e.g. ay, may, I play,)
How do we ensure children can read every book?
The first thing we do is to give children books we know they can read – without any guessing. (We read lots of other stories to them, but do not expect them to read these yet.)
Before they read the story, they sound out the names of characters and new words, practise reading any of the ‘tricky red’ words and tell them a thought-provoking introduction to get them excited about the story.
Then, over three days, children read the story three times: first to focus on reading the words carefully; the second to help them read the story fluently; and on the third, we talk about the story together for example, how characters might be feeling and why. By the time your child reads the story to you at home, they will be able to read it confidently with expression.
How do we teach children to spell confidently?
We use just two simple activities: Fred Fingers to spell regular words and Red Rhythms for tricky words.
Fred Fingers: We teach children to spell using ‘Fred Fingers’: we say a word and then children pinch the sounds onto their fingers and write the word, sound by sound.
Red Rhythms: We teach tricky words with Red Rhythms. We say the tricky letters in a puzzled or annoyed voice and build the letter names up into a rhythm, for example, s-ai-d.
Children learn to spell new words and review past words every week, they practise spelling them with a partner and – when they’re ready – we give them a test to celebrate their spelling success.
How do we make writing simple for children to learn?
We teach handwriting, spelling and composition separately, gradually bringing each skill together step-by-step.
We teach children to form letters with the correct pencil grip and in the correct sitting position from the very beginning. They practise handwriting every day so they learn to write quickly and easily.
Once children can write simple words, we teach them to ‘hold’ a sentence in their heads and then write it with correct spelling and punctuation.
Very soon children are able to write down their own ideas. We try out different sentences together, drawing on new vocabulary and phrases from the storybook they’ve just read. They practise saying their sentences out loud first so they don’t forget their ideas while they’re writing. They also learn to proofread their own writing using ready-made sentences containing common grammar, punctuation and spelling errors.
How can you help at home?
First of all, come to our meetings. We hold these every term to give you practical advice about how you can help.
We appreciate you’re busy but here are two things that will make the biggest difference to your child’s progress. Every night:
- Read a bedtime story to your child: Your child will bring home lovely books from their class story corner. Read these stories to your child – don’t ask them to read the story themselves as this is beyond their current reading stage. There is some really good advice about how to make bedtime story time fun on www.ruthmiskin.com/ parents.
- Listen to your child read the storybook we send home: Your child will bring home a Read Write Inc. Storybook they have just finished reading in their group. They will be able to read this book confidently because they have already read it two or three times. Please do not say “This book is too easy!” Praise your child for how well they read it – celebrate what a great reader they are. They’ll sometimes bring home previous stories they have read too. Re-reading stories develop their fluency on every reading.